“I realise that I do not actually want to have kids of my own. I just don’t feel the need to have children of my own.

Sharing an email.
Subject: Childless or childfree?
Hello IHM,
For many years, I have been a keen follower of your posts and the comments which follow. Many of the women who  write to you and the followers of your blog probably look for many things – validation, affirmation, consolation, strength, support or just maybe different opinions on the topic being discussed. And I too come to the IHM family looking for perspectives on a question that has started troubling me these days.
At the very beginning, I must say, I come from a privileged background. Liberal parents, a very good higher education, married the man of my choice (albeit with a bit of struggle convincing his parents!) and turns out he is a feminist, my in laws are fairly conservative but we live abroad so haven’t had any issues yet, I work full time doing the thing I love most, have ample financial independence too. My husband and I treat each other as the equals that we are and he is every bit the person I had always wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
Having said that, now that it has been two years since we were married and are now both 30, we are dreading the inevitable turn the conversation takes at this stage in every Indian couple’s lives – “when will you share the good news?”
I want to clear something first – I absolutely love and adore children. Now that I am in a position where we have to decide if this is what we want to go ahead with, I realise that I do not actually want to have kids of my own. My husband, as of now, feels the same way. But he is still vacillating between “not now” or “not ever”. Our reasons are different, I just don’t feel the need to have children of my own. My husband, on the other hand, feels we are not financially ready since we are both still paying off education loans.
The issue is, I do not know how to broach this topic with either set of parents. My dad, no matter how liberal in other things, believes there is a circle of life and everything happens one after another, education -> marriage -> children. My mother, quietly, has told me it is our choice. I’m not really sure if she is ok with it or not but for the moment, she seems to be on my side. My in laws, I haven’t spoken to yet, will probably be apoplectic when they hear that I do not want children. I will keep that aside for now.
With this, I hope I have explained my background well. I love kids, have not been abused as a child (no trust issues, etc), am financially quite stable (not that we cannot afford to have children). I just do not feel the inherent need that some women do to have a child of my own. I have a couple of questions:
1. Have any of your readers experienced the same feelings as mine? How did they handle it personally? I know now that I do not want to have kids but at the same time, I am full of doubts and questions – what if I regret this decision when I am no longer able to have children naturally (I can always adopt of course), will I be missing out on something wonderful in life? Will this affect my relationship with my husband? What if we split up?
2. How did they deal with pressure, questions and rumours from family and friends? (For example – Maybe they are infertile, how selfish of them not to have children, maybe he/she is having an affair or is gay or is unable to “do it”, how are you going to live in your old age? what if one of you dies?  you will be bored of each other within a few years, what is the use of earning so much, this is what happens when you give your kids too much freedom)
3. How is having or not having children selfish? If you have children because you want them, is that not selfish since you are doing it for your own happiness? Are we being “selfish” and depriving our parents of grandchildren (a couple of friends actually told me this)? How is this relevant, especially since we are going to be primary caregivers for the children and not the grandparents who will barely see the kids once in a while.
4. Why should we consider children as a security deposit to be encashed later in life? My husband and I should be managing our finances properly and planning for our old age, irrespective of having children or not. We should be keeping ourselves busy with friends and hobbies, not having children to keep yourself occupied!
5. Are couple who are childfree (implying choice) or childless (could not have children for various reasons) any less men or women or not contributing to society solely because they do not have children? How much do couples actually think before they embark upon being parents? Most couples I know went ahead because it had been X years since they got married and it was the right thing to do next.
We have not yet made the final decision since my husband is still thinking of it but it would be good to know what other people think. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
Regards,
CF
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Every Hindu woman must produce at least 4 kids: Sakshi Maharaj

Every Hindu woman must produce at least 4 kids: Sakshi Maharaj

Unnao MP Sakshi Maharaj has once again stirred a hornet’s nest by saying all Hindu women must produce at least four children.

In Meerut on Tuesday to address a gathering on the occasion of Sant Samaagam Mahotsava, he said, “The concept of four wives and 40 children will not work in India and the time has come when a Hindu woman must produce at least four children in order to protect Hindu religion.”

Link: Every Hindu woman must produce at least 4 kids: Sakshi Maharaj

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Some doors are different… they are closed for fifty percent of the population.

Religion makes us kind and good.

“A Hindu woman derives immense pleasure in sacrifice for her husband. The white man will never ever understand this.”

What makes someone find the concept of ghunghat appreciable?

Sindoor, Tali and Mangalsutra.

‘Mother india.. Flawless women… My grand salute to this mother..’

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

‘Mother india.. Flawless women… My grand salute to this mother..’

Many comments seem to see nothing more than glorious, flawless Indian motherhood in this news 😦

In her 9th month, pregnant woman swam 90 mins to safety

She hadn’t undergone any strength-training programmes nor was she fed any special diet. She had never heard any motivational speeches either. But when the time came to take the plunge, this nine-month pregnant woman, who had never swam in her entire life, dived into the choppy waters of the Krishna river. For nearly 90 minutes, she battled the surging river till she reached the nearest village with a hospital.

One comment:

‘…a mothers heart , selfless , pure . She would do anything for her baby . Hats off to her courage.’

Not just any mother.

‘Mother india.. Flawless women… My grand salute to this mother..’

9 months pregnant 22 year old Yellavva, was ‘married’ to a married man, 30-year-old daily wage labourer who ‘detested’ her. She was the eldest of the seven children of her impoverished labourer parents.

… Yellavva’s pregnancy was marked more with the fear of rising river levels than the anxiety about childbirth itself.

The nearest hospital was four km away, and they had to cross a river to reach it. Yelluva said she wanted the river crossed before it rose, but her family kept postponing it.

… the poverty-stricken family probably had life’s more pressing matters to attend to until Wednesday when the Krishna swelled like never before after excess water from Basava Sagara reservoir, 10-km upstream, was let into the river.

By then, the situation had gone out of hand and it was inevitable that Yellavva and her family would have to enter the swirling waters for the sake of the baby.

IHM:  Would they not have done the same if it wasn’t a pregnant woman but another very sick woman (or man)?

Why is it not about poverty, lack of basic facilities, lack of awareness and lack of value for the rights, life and health of the poor, specially poor women? 

“I even yelled at my father and others for arguing it would never rain as there was drought all around.” I told them to look at the river now, but my father just asked me to jump in.

“… Even when I was about to plunge in, I protested. Praying to gods I jumped into the river only to fall back. It was so cold and suffocating, even at that hour; it was 10 am. The strong currents kept dragging me. But then my brothers tied dried pumpkins and bottle gourd on either side to maintain buoyancy,” she says.

The pumpkin and bottle gourds helped Yellavva stay afloat when she was totally exhausted.

Her brother swam ahead of her and father swam along with her. Two male relatives followed them.

…. all those swimming around me started to push me one after another while my brother swimming in the front began dragging me by holding on to the rope. About 45 minutes later, we managed to reach the … the other side of the bank,”

Some comments found the story inspiring.

… Yellavva has survived only on the bare minimum her family could provide for. … Except for bajra rotis, subsidised rice and some vegetables, I ate nothing else ever since I conceived. Even on that day, I just had a couple of bajra rotis with onion chutney.”

Would she be judged if she said she was worried for her own safety and health?

 

“After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

“After all, why do we as kids, feel so entitled to our mother’s time, indeed her entire life and personality?”

Why do you think?

“For a man to be labelled a bad father, he needs to be a wife beating, severe alcoholic/spendthrift, good for nothing.

For a woman to be labelled a bad mother, she just has to be 5 minutes late in coming from the kitchen while the child is crying in the living room. That needs to change.”

Read more at: Indra Nooyi and her children.

I agree with:

“Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women’s opportunities, not to limit them. The self-esteem that has been found in new pursuits can also be found in mothering.”

“The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.”

― Elaine Heffner

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Why are mothers ignored, asks SC

Why do men NOT have to choose between being a CEO and a father, but women have to make this choice.

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet?

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

“I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything…”

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

What does it mean to be a ‘mother’?? – Shail Mohan

On Mother’s Day… – Shail Mohan

How would you react if you knew your son (or daughter) felt this way?

Why are mothers ignored, asks SC

While we claim to ‘worship’ mothers ( well, atleast the mothers of male children) do we really respect mothers or motherhood? 

How does the society ensure that motherhood does not come in the way of self reliance and basic human rights for women? (Do we give this a thought?)

Instead, it seems, many of us expect some parents (only women) to look upon parenting as a sacrifice, social obligation and duty.

Rights? Few.

Responsibilities? 

But here is a small ray of hope. 

Why are mothers ignored, asks SC

Link shared by K

Mothers hardly match the authority a father commands in official documents necessary to prove a person’s identity. While the father’s name prominently figures in government documents, the mother is usually given the go-by.

 

The Supreme Court is all set to change that.

….

The petition, filed by journalist Madhav Kant Mishra from Allahabad, says ignoring the parenthood of the mother in government documents is in gross violation of the Fundamental Right to Equality under Article 14 of the Constitution. It sought an ordinance making the mother’s name compulsory in documents.

Do we really respect mothers? 

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

Mommy Guilt: A Western Influence.

An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.”

How can the society ensure that marriage (and homemaking and motherhood) does not result in women becoming financially dependent on their husbands?

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

‘How I am going to manage two toddlers, work, home, chores etc etc without any physical and moral support from my in laws?’

Why Scandinavian women make the rest of the world jealous.

An email: “She is considering having an abortion without telling her husband about it.”

“…and every month if my periods get delayed I am given a weird look and it clearly shows that she is afraid i might get pregnant again.”

How are mothers treated in Indian culture?

Would Indra Nooyi like to be the kind of mother to her daughters that her mother has been to her?

An update: “My friend is having the baby because her mother absolutely refused to support her decision to abort.”

Sometimes also used to control women’s freedom and choices:

New scare for urban women: Menopause in 20s

“I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything…”

Mere consent to conjugal rights does not mean consent to give birth to a child for her husband.

An email: Is it selfish to not want to be parents yet?

Woman you are not doing anybody a favour…

An email: “I find it very hard to forgive my husband for all that happened at the time of my delivery.”

Some other points that SC has raised in the past:

Daughter-in-law should not be treated as domestic help, says Supreme Court

Marry Or Live With Anyone Of Your Choice.

Plain-clothed police officers, warning signboards, cancellation of permits, helplines: SC directs States to take serious steps to curb Street Sexual Harassment.

Don’t let off rapists on flimsy grounds, SC tells courts.

Why does Gender Sensitivity in Legal Language matter.

When a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?

What does having a career mean to a newly married Indian woman?

1. She is working towards self reliance and real choices in decisions that affect her more than anybody else, decisions in which she probably has very little say, even if she has the mental strength and will to fight for those decisions.

Financial self reliance means she would be less likely to have to choose between her parents’ home (Maika), husband’s home (sasural) or being out on the streets.

2. A support system (friends and a social life), specially in a society where married women are unlikely to find support from their parents. Many Indian parents seem to choose unhappily married daughters over unhappy sons in law or parents in laws/divorce.

For instance, Are Happily Married Daughters a status symbol in India?

An email: “But my parents, fearing the society and their reputation begged him to take me back.”

3. Personal growth.

So, when a newly married Indian woman gives up her career, what else does she give up?

Why is it considered reasonable and harmless to expect a woman to give up (or change) her career to Stay Married?

Do you think the woman in this email is making a choice or is a choice being forced on her?

Updated to add this link: What do you think?

 Some unsolicited advice to men in relationships!

… a call from a childhood friend last evening…

She asked me a strange question; in fact, it was a strange conversation:

Her: “Is it ok for me to borrow money from my parents or my brother?”

Me: “What do you need the money for?”

Her: “Just like that, I want to keep it with me. I have no savings.”

My friend is married, with two children. [Continue to read here]

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“Let me give you the reason I asked for advise here instead of talking with my family.”

An email: I am not sure how my husband is going to react to this…

Society benefits immensely from childbearing, childrearing, and caregiving work that currently goes unpaid.

How important is it for a girl to get married?

What good is being liberal or modern if your daughter gets divorced in the first year of the marriage?

“I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything…”

Sharing an email and an opinion.

“IHM, I would like to share my experience.

My pregnancy wasn’t planned… I’m not a baby person and I never felt the need to have a child… Neither did my husband…Then some yrs. after marriage I got pregnant… I was scared… My husband wasn’t very happy… Anyway, there I was pregnant so we decided to have the child… I waited for maternal love to overcome me – it didn’t… After my baby was born, I didn’t feel anything… Neither did my husband… All the stuff about how a mother falls in love with her child at first sight was rubbish… In fact, when I saw my 2.5 kg baby,
I got scared… How was I going to take care of hen*? I didn’t know anything about babies… Anyway, to cut a long story short, the overwhelming maternal love came a few weeks later and now we are both so happy that we can’t imagine a life without our child… The thing is, we couldn’t talk about our feelings with anybody because it was a taboo subject… “

*Hen is the gender neutral term used in place of his or her.

And Sraboney Ghose shared these thoughts.

“Since motherhood has been the topic of discussion lately, there is
an aspect of it which is the ultimate taboo in most societies (and I
can’t understand why) – bonding… Mother-baby love is supposed to be love at first sight but a large proportion of new mothers do not bond immediately with their newborns leading to shame and inadequacy and since motherhood is put on a pedestal, these mothers cannot even talk about it…

Why is motherhood idolized and worshiped in all cultures but mothers not viewed as human beings in many? Why are mothers expected to bond with their newborns immediately?
Are images of motherhood a strategy to cover up oppression?
Does this idolization lead to many mothers being overwhelmed by guilt, blaming themselves for their children’s and/or their own shortcomings, feeling pushed to behave up to impossible expectations about what motherhood ‘should’ be?

From the moment they find out they are pregnant, expectant mothers are bombarded with messages all telling the same tale: that as soon as they hold their newborn child they’ll  experience a deep, unconditional love… So powerful is this love that it will make any monotony, isolation and exhaustion they may encounter on their journey into motherhood worthwhile… What if this doesn’t happen? Mothers are human beings and like all human beings they have their own individuality… Why is this not taken into account?”

It’s not about hot hot chappaties.

Somewhere in the blogosphere …

The topic of discussion : Some women make hot chappaties for their family and finally eat alone only when everybody else has eaten.

The comment: But, if a woman loves to give “garam garam roti” to her husband and kids without any compulsion, straight or oblique, then we should not snatch her joy by being judgmental in a superior sort of way. It is not what you do but why you do what you do that is important. / Did I say there is anything wrong in the whole family eating together? It is something to be cherished…but if someone follows a different way, without compulsion ..

Why this bothers me:

1. We all know how much real choice do Indian women have in most matters, so let’s not even talk of no compulsion, oblique or straight.
Is it really okay for a woman to have cold chappaties after the family has eaten ?
Why should one family member ignore their own comforts?
Does she feel this will make her more likable ?

2. It also means that the girl who does not stand in the kitchen making hot chapatties for her family and is perhaps a little less willing to suffer for them, is not as good …

3. But most of all it shows that the men and the children in that family feel no compunction in allowing this sacrifice. Why don’t the sons, the daughters, the husbands and the in laws put their foot down and refuse to let her eat alone?

Obviously she believes that they can enjoy a meal without her?
What in their attitude made her believe that they will not mind her eating alone, after they have all eaten?


The Comment:we should not be judgmental and disturb the harmony that exists.

The biggest myth is this harmony. There is no harmony here, or else we will not have anonymous blogs, emails and comments from wives, daughters in law and girls who hate this system and all that it stands for.

The Comment: At the same time, positive education is needed to ensure that discrimination based on gender, that which is in the mind, is eradicated.

Reminds me of our politicians “I condemn the dastardly acts of terrorists/violence against innocent citizens…We will /not tolerate /make sure this never happens again …
Why?
Read the next sentence!

Comment: Frankly, I feel that this thing about “equality” is being stretched too far in some cases.

How does equality NOT get stretched too far? By accepting a little equality and an occasional inequality?
As in we will allow a daughter in law to visit her parents but only twice a year…?

As in we will allow the first child to be a baby girl, but second daughters not allowed?
Or as in we will permit you to work but we will not help with house work?

The comment continues : Why should it mean only doing what men do?

How many women has this commenter seen trying to do what men do?
And what do only men do that women mustn’t?
Play football? Have careers? Be independent? Drive? Wear jeans?
Enjoy a late night outing? Be self reliant? Have fun with friends?
Refuse to live in a joint family? Love her own parents even after she is married?
Or just wish to sit and eat with the rest of the family 😦

I know of real women, brought up with this sort of conditioning, who are actually annoyed that men do not have to undergo labour pains and go through nine months of pregnancy…why should the woman alone suffer, is the argument.

When I had nausea during the first trimester of my pregnancy we were at a party and this bachelor (from Haryana btw) said “All these problems happen only to city girls, in my village women go back to working in the fields soon after the baby is born.
I did not ask (always think of it later) what the Pregnancy related mortality rate in Haryanawas, but today we know why with this attitude, has Haryana got the worst girl:boy ratio in the country.

So please understand why women say such stuff. I am sure I would have loved it if this guy whose face and name I don’t remember, was given one day of my nausea.

I know you will find it silly, but try telling that to them and they will say that this discrimination exists because God is a male!

You mean, you know for sure that God has a gender!!?
Sita, Durga, Laxmi are male?
Who created a male God? Who decided that God is male?
You will never hear me say any such thing because my God is gender less 🙂

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An email from a DIL living in a Joint Family: Should I adjust or should I leave?